Accordion Bass Scales
A lot of people ask me about accordion bass scales – this page should help anyone who’s keen to teach themselves. A knowledge of these scales will in time allow you to intuitively play bass runs and fills.
First number your fingers like a piano player : 1=Thumb (but we almost never use it!) 5=Little finger. You can work out the rest.
Stradella Basses – A Transposing System
Most piano accordions have Stradella basses – two rows of basses and 3 or 4 rows of chords. The row nearest the bellows is the counterbass row, the next one in is the bass row and has a dimple on the C. One of the great things about Stradella basses is that if you learn a scale, riff or bassline you can play it in any key – just move your hand to a new start position.
There’s more about Stradella basses in my Accordion Tips and Tricks
First place your 4 fingers on 4 buttons of the bass row. For a scale of C Major your 4th finger should be on the C bass button. (so 5 is on F, 3 is on G and 2 is on D)
A major scale has 7 different notes – it turns out that the other 3 notes you need are on the counterbass row: reach an A with your 5th finger, E with your 4th and B with your 3rd.
Now you just need to play all those notes in the right order! (C, D, E, F, G ,A ,B ,C) and you will have played a Major scale. Here’s the Music. Notes underlined with a _ are on the counterbass row.
Reach for the Floor!
Remember when you stretch for the counterbass row to reach toward the bellows AND the floor! (particularly the A with the Little finger) Make sure your hand is far enough though the backstrap to reach. Your knuckles should be in a vertical line – its easy to let your hand twist making the A hard to reach.
You will also notice that there is an unused F# available – so yes – you can also play a scale of G here without moving your hand! AND you can move your whole hand one button towards the floor and play a C scale with “alternative fingering” – it’s useful because if you have a bassline that’s tricky to play in one way you can move your hand and play the same thing with different (hopefully easier!) fingering. Here’s the music:
Minor scales are a little harder – bigger stretches – but don’t be put off – like all bass parts they transpose so you only need to know 1 scale and not 12!
Here’s the music:
Over To You
Okay, that’s it – if you practice these you will be flying round all kinds of great basslines in no time! Get more Accordion Tips and Tricks here!